Internet = Big Brother

Today’s society is constantly associated to technology, such as cellphones, tablets and computers. However, the one thing all these forms of technology have is their connection to the Internet. Having a pathway to use the Internet all almost all technology devices is a very dangerous thing. Sherry Turkle at TED Talks 2012 explained this action as overpowering us humans. “The little devices in our pockets are so psychologically powerful that they don’t even change what we do, they change who we are” (Turkle, 2012). Sherry Turkle describes the large access to the internet not only dangerous but it also has the ability to change the individual. This is where the balance of public, private and personal within the social media world is so important. The public aspect is one that allowing the public, meaning every single individual on the Internet sees what you are posting. Private, meaning these other people cannot see what you posted. Lastly, personal concerning the usage of social media websites and showing your information to selected friends and family. I currently use Facebook and my settings are as private as they get because I do not want people I do not know to see what I’m posting. My profile is very limited with information, I do not provide my email, phone number, address, ect. However, I do have what school I attend and my birthday (month and day but no year), but that is about it. I am debating on changing my last name of my Facebook profile to my middle name to discourage others from trying to find me and to keep my name private. But I have not made that change yet. Therefore, I balance public, private and personal by limiting what personal information I provide on my social media websites and I make all my setting extremely private. Boyd and Ellison (2008) explains the harsh reality of social media especially Facebook; a feature that differentiates Facebook is the ability for outside developers to build applications which allow users to personalize their profiles and perform other tasks, such as compare movie preferences and chart travel histories”(Boyd & Ellison, 2008). Having this information all this information on one website can become hazardous. For example, Instagram (a social media picture network) has developed new policies that conclude that the pictures that the users and upload to the website/app will then in return be saved and used by Instagram. This policy takes away your privacy rights as an individual however, when signing up you must click the ‘I agree’ button in regards to their policies. Thus, when releasing personal information I now read the social media policies because I do not want my information sold to other companies and so on. The knowledge that my social media activities are under constant surveillance influence provides me with a sense of ‘Big Brother’. This sense of feeling will most defiantly alter what I post online. Albrechtslund (2008) demonstrates that this Big Brother feeling is actually more common then believed. Most individuals on the Internet especially on social media websites have no idea regarding this surveillance. Therefore, in my opinion individuals need a better understanding regarding the surveillance on the Internet. Also, the knowledge of the balance between public, private and personal should be common. There is always someone watching.


Albrechtslund, A. (2008) “Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance.” First Monday. 13,3

Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship  danah m. boyd Nicole B. Ellison Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication Volume 13, Issue 1, pages 210–230, October 2007

Places we don’t want to go: Sherry Turkle at TED2012


The above image demonstrates the little privacy settings that a social media website (Facebook) has. 



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3 responses to “Internet = Big Brother

  1. Paige, I learned some interesting information from reading this post. I myself am an Instagram user and I never knew that the site saves people’s pictures that they post, although I guess it’s not very surprising. I agree with your comment about how when using the internet and posting on the internet there is always somebody watching, and nothing ever seems to remain private even considering the privacy settings you have made on your account. I too have considered changing my names of various social media websites, and have even followed through with it. Although I’m sure that this would not stop people from finding certain personal information about me. It’s rather scary when you think about it isn’t it? Great post.

  2. Like Sherry Turkle, I also believe that the Internet is psychologically powerful and can change who we are. Just looking at the amount of online bullying is enough proof that the Internet changes people. Due to privacy issues, I have also set my social networking sites to extremely private settings. I agree that having too much information in one place can be hazardous. Even though my friends and I have set our Facebook pages to private, there have still been privacy issues (for my full story see my blog post). These issues have led me to deactivate my account. When it comes to the other social media sites I also read the policies to make sure that my personal information is not being sold or accessible to the general public. I agree that individuals need a better understanding of surveillance when it comes to the Internet. This can give people the power to be more cautious and wary of what they post online. Overall, I am not concerned if the police or government is “Big Brother” in terms of monitoring the Internet, it is when the wrong people start monitoring the Internet and people’s activity is when I get concerned. Therefore, I completely agree with you that individuals need a better understanding of Internet surveillance.

  3. Good for you for paying attention to the social media site policies before deciding to agree or disagree. These sites make it seem so harmless for us to use them and too many of us just check that ‘agree’ box without thinking of what we are giving up. The thing that most of these sites have in common is that the invitation to join comes from a family member or friend. They have shared some pictures you want to see or they have invited you to become part of their inner circle on a new media. The knowledge that someone we know or trust is using the media often leads many of us to feel it is safe. How often do we stop and ask our friend if they have thoroughly checked out the security, privacy and intellectual property policies before we sign up and join them?

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